BOTTOM LINE Beck shows how hard it is to get happy.
With “Colors” (Capitol), Beck tries to follow up his beautiful, melancholy album of the year Grammy-winning “Morning Phase” with something both brainy and joyful.
He sorta succeeds, though mainly he shows how tough it is to pack upbeat pop songs with weighty concepts and dense lyrics. “I want to see you with the pharaoh’s curse, the apple flower doggerel, the batteries burst,” he sings in the poppy “Seventh Heaven,” which sounds like it will burst into Pharrell’s “Happy” at any moment. “And I’m out in the city in the typical noise with the suntan ellipse and the filigree of energy.”
The dissonance can be a bit much at times, but Beck fans are used to that kind of stream-of-consciousness imagery. After all, “in the time of chimpanzees, he was a monkey” turned into the chart-topping anthem “Loser.”
And when it works, it’s stunning, like in “No Distraction,” where he takes what could be a Bruno Mars groove into a next-level song about attraction. But the lovely, more Beck-ish “Fix Me” shows how he has mastered this kind of ballad in a way that much of “Colors” can’t match.